New requirements for interagency agreements

Agencies now have guidelines from the lead federal procurement office designed to help them make sound business decisions and better manage assisted acquisitions.

After Oct. 1, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy is requiring agencies to ensure that decisions to use interagency acquisitions are supported by “best-interest determination.” Those determinations are described in the new guidance on interagency contracting released today.

For example, in a best-interest determination, OFPP suggests that contracting officials consider whether they’re paying more to use another agency’s contract than handling the work on their own. When an agency needs another agency's assistance for an acquisition, OFPP recommends that the agency making the request should consider the servicing agency’s experience and expertise, its ability to comply with policies, and its service fees, the guidance document states.

After Nov. 3, agencies entering into new interagency agreements must include 31 elements described in the guidance. For example, the agreement must have general terms and conditions, such as the legal authority of the agency providing the service, the scope of the agreement, and each party’s right to terminate the agreement.

The agreement also must include details on requirements and funding information, such as projected milestones, a description of the assistance, and data from both parties that will be required to transfer and obligate funds, the guidance states.

In the 70-page document, OFPP gives agencies guidance on making sound business decisions regarding interagency contracts and strengthening how agencies manage the assisted acquisitions. The guidance comes with a model interagency agreement for an assisted acquisition and an example of a completed agreement, on which to base a future contract. It also includes a checklist of roles and responsibilities for agencies involved in the acquisitions.

Paul Denett, OFPP administrator, wrote in a memo accompanying the document that agencies currently lack a precise understanding of their responsibilities in interagency acquisitions. Without the knowing what’s expected of the agency requesting the assistance and agency providing it, each party has struggled with poor planning, inconsistent uses of contract competitions, weak management and concerns about financial controls, Denett wrote.

Interagency contracts appeal to contracting officers who are understaffed and under pressure to meet their agencies’ acquisition requirements quickly, officials have said, while adding agencies can buy the wrong thing as quickly. With the new guidelines, OFPP wants to improve oversight of the interagency contracts and have the contracts removed from the Government Accountability Office’s High Risk List.

About the Author

Matthew Weigelt is a freelance journalist who writes about acquisition and procurement.

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